By Bridgett Hernandez
Time capsules are typically buried for 100 years or more, tucked under the cornerstone of courthouses or churches. Georgetown Square founder Tom Jehl wanted to break with that tradition when he buried a massive time capsule at the shopping center’s 25-year anniversary celebration in 1993.
After 25 years, the time capsule will be opened at the 50-year anniversary celebration June 22.
“Usually people who bury a time capsule are not alive when it’s [unburied], so this is kind of different because a lot of people very much remember when it was buried and will be there [when it is unburied],” said his daughter Maureen Partee.
Jehl passed away in 2006 at the age of 76. Partee handles public relations for Georgetown Square and her brother, Steve Jehl, has managed the shopping center since 1981.
Partee said her father put serious thought into preserving the massive time capsule, measuring approximately seven feet long, three feet wide and three feet deep. Great care was taken to prevent moisture from damaging its contents.
A plaque marking the site reads, “Buried here June 12, 1993, the 25th anniversary of Georgetown Square, contains tangible evidence of life style and philosophy in the Georgetown area during 1993 and before.”
A list of the time capsule’s contents is available at the Georgetown Library. Among them are contributions from Georgetown businesses, including business cards, menus and photographs.
Rogers grocery store added a box of Twinkies. Whoever typed up the list of contents added an inquisitive note, “Will they still be edible in 25 years?” Georgetown Square Manager Steve Jehl said that people would be welcome to taste them (after signing a waiver, he joked).
People will be more apt to want to taste test Fort Wayne liquor store Cap n’Cork’s contribution to the time capsule, a bottle of Chateau LaFite Rothschild, a French wine 1989 vintage. According to the list, it’s “one of the finest wines made and should be at its prime when the capsule is reopened.” The bottle is valued at $900, according to online wine store wine.com.
Computer Corner contributed a Poqet handheld computer. Beside it on the list is a question, “Will computers in 2018 be smaller than handheld?”
School children also wondered what the future would hold. They wrote essays about what they thought 2018 would be like. Those are going to be fun to read, Partee said.
Messages to loved ones
Neighbors of the Georgetown area also contributed to the time capsule, including letters to children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
Unbeknownst to her three daughters, Carolyn Frey Bahler contributed envelopes for each of them, messages that wouldn’t reach them for 25 years.
Carolyn passed away in 2011 at the age of 78. Her daughters, who live in Illinois and Texas, didn’t know about their mother’s contribution to the time capsule until IN|Fort Wayne reached out to the family for this story. Daughter Nancy Sue Davidhizar didn’t even know that Georgetown Square had buried a time capsule.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit that she would do something like this. She loved Georgetown,” she said.
Nancy and her sisters grew up in New Haven and attended Blackhawk Baptist Church. Their mother had a career in the restaurant business with Hall’s at Georgetown, Damon’s, Bob Evans and Olive Garden.
The daughters moved out of state shortly after high school, Nancy said. “It wasn’t on purpose; it was just who we married and where we ended up.”
In 1993, Nancy was 33 years old and living in Texas. She had a loving relationship with her mother, but communication was trickier back then. Social media didn’t exist and long-distance calls were very expensive.
After Carolyn passed away in 2011, Nancy’s father moved to Texas to be closer to family. Growing up, Nancy remembers how hard her parents worked.
“She and my dad didn’t go to college. And so she wanted us girls to go to college and just be something. They wanted more for us than what they were able to experience. She and Dad both worked very hard to put us through college and that was just really important to her,” Nancy said.
The three daughters graduated with honors from New Haven High School and Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and are teachers in their respective areas.
A message for the future
These days, Nancy and her sisters are close to the age their mother Carolyn was when she placed the envelopes in the time capsule. Nancy said she’s not surprised their mom left something for them because she always wanted the daughters to know about the family’s history.
“Things like that were important to her,” Nancy said.
However, she doesn’t want to speculate on the contents of the envelopes.
If given the opportunity, Nancy knows what message she would leave for her own children.
“We would tell them how much we love them. We would tell them how grateful we are to the Lord for blessing us with them. We have very good relationships with our grown kids and our grandkids and that’s such a blessing … We can laugh and joke and have a great time. We can have deeper spiritual conversations. We can talk about literature because we all love that. I think I would write about that,” she said.
Breaking the seal
Georgetown Square will celebrate its 50-year anniversary at 3 p.m. Friday, June 22. Food and entertainment will continue around the time capsule from 4-6 p.m. The Bulldogs will perform the season’s first free summer concert form 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Click here to see a list of the time capsule’s contents. The list is also available at the Georgetown Public Library.